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September 27th, 2010

Borders is trying to put themselves out of business

The other day, I had a Borders’ coupon for 40% off and figured I’d stop by and pick up a book, one made of paper. I used their Web Sight to check the stock of the local store and was told that the book I wanted was “likely in store,” a term they use presumably to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing should a book not actually be available.

I stopped in, headed to the proper section of the store, and looked for the book. I groaned as I noticed that this section noted to be organized “alphabetically by author” wasn’t. At all. At first it seemed like popular authors in this genre were grouped together. But then I saw that groups of books by the same author were all over the section. There were “S”s amongst the “W”s. There was no discernible order to this section at all.

I checked the section top-to-bottom twice. I went and double-checked an in-store kiosk, which is really just the Web Sight, and got the same “likely in store” note. I checked the section one more time and then headed to the information desk to get the real skinny on this book. Except for one thing…

The information desk was gone. In its place was an unmanned “ebooks” desk. There were no employees to be found except at the register. So, I went up to the store’s seemingly sole employee and asked if he could check to see if a book was actually, really and truly in stock or not. He checked and said, “Yeah. We have one copy.” and called someone else up from the back to help me.

I told this second employee what I needed and he proceeded to go over to the section and look it over top to bottom again. I asked him, “Is there any mystical ‘back room’ that the one copy might be sitting in, unpacked?” He went and checked the mystical back room that does, apparently, exist.

He returned a couple of minutes later empty-handed and checked the section top-to-bottom again, unsuccessfully.

“Well,” I sighed, “Can I just order another copy and pick it up here?”

He responded, “We don’t do that anymore, with the web site and all. I can give you a coupon for free shipping…?”

So: completely unsorted books, inaccurate inventory, no more information desk, and no more “special orders”… I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a company trying to commit suicide to me.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

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